Background and importance Drug shortages (DS) are a current global health issue facing pharmacists, prescribers and patients. To deal with DS, pharmacists are forced to resort to different suppliers and manufacturers, or to seek supplies abroad, in order to guarantee treatment of patients.
Aim and objectives To analyse DS that affected a second level hospital over 1 year (March 2018 to March 2019) and to describe measures taken by the hospital pharmacist to deal with them.
Material and methods This was a descriptive, observational, retrospective study of DS over a 1 year period. A list of all DS that affected our hospital was obtained from the Spanish Agency for Medicines and Health Products (AEMPS) webpage and from calling laboratories when medications were delayed. Variables collected were: drugs involved, therapeutic group according to the anatomic, therapeutic, chemical (ATC) classification system and pharmaceutical actions to solve DS.
Results During the study period, 172 DS affected our hospital. Eight (4.7%) were not notified to the AEMPS. According to the ATC classification system, the main groups affected were: antimetabolites (7%; ATC-L01B), corticosteroids for systemic use (4.7%; ATC-H02A), antiarrhythmics, classes I and III (4.1%; ATC-C01B), antipsychotics (2.9%; ATC-N05A) and all other therapeutic products (2.9%; ATC-V03A). The strategies for management of these DS were changing the supplier (37.8%), buying a different packaging (11%), foreign medicine importation through AEMPS authorisation (8.7%), using a therapeutic alternative (4.1%), restricting use of available stock according to clinical criteria (2.9%) and performing a magistral formula (1.2%). In the remaining 34.3% of cases, no action was needed.
Conclusion and relevance Currently, we are forced to deal with a large number of DS. Antimetabolites, systemic corticosteroids and class I and III antiarrhythmics were the main ATC groups affected. In most cases, it was possible to change laboratory and change the packaging. DS affect every level of the healthcare system, compromising standards of care. Because of this, it is important to coordinate different health services in order to take adequate measures to face shortages, without risking patient safety.
References and/or acknowledgements No conflict of interest.
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